China’s new Foreign Minister Qin Gang held a press conference for the Chinese and international media on March 7 in the margins of the ongoing annual meeting of the National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s parliament, in which, over nearly two hours, he fielded 14 questions that together offer rich insights into the principles governing Chinese foreign policy as well as its practical implementation.
In opening, and responding to a question from China Central Television, Minister Qin noted that China will host two major diplomatic events this year, the first China-Central Asia Summit and the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, and continued:
“We will take it as our mission to defend China’s core interests. We firmly oppose any form of hegemonism and power politics. We firmly oppose the Cold War mentality, camp-based confrontation, and acts to contain and hold back other countries’ development. We will resolutely safeguard China’s sovereignty, security and development interests.”
Saying that, “we will [always] honor our commitment to serving the people,” the Minister observed that: “The new journey of China’s diplomacy will be an expedition with glories and dreams, and it will also be a long voyage through stormy seas. The harder the mission, the more glorious its accomplishment.”
Responding to a question from an Egyptian publication, Qin Gang made a number of important points regarding China’s modernization, noting that:
- Achieving modernization for a country of more than 1.4 billion people will be an unprecedented feat in human history, one of profound global significance in itself.
- It busts the myth that modernization is westernization; it creates a new form of human advancement; and it provides an important source of inspiration for the world, especially developing countries.
- Modernization should not serve the interests of only a few countries or individuals. It should not make the rich richer and the poor poorer.
- Chinese modernization is not pursued through war, colonization, or plundering. It is dedicated to peace, development, cooperation and mutual benefit, and is committed to harmony between humanity and nature. It is a new path different from Western modernization.
Much attention has inevitably focused on Qin Gang’s comments regarding the relationship between China and Russia. Responding to a question from TASS, he noted: “China and Russia have found a path of major-country relations featuring strategic trust and good neighborliness, setting a good example for a new type of international relations…With China and Russia working together, the world will have a driving force toward multipolarity and greater democracy in international relations, and global strategic balance and stability will be better ensured. The more unstable the world becomes, the more imperative it is for China and Russia to steadily advance their relations.”
In introducing President Xi Jinping’s flagship policies of the Global Development Initiative (GDI) and the Global Security Initiative (GSI), in response to a question from People’s Daily, he observed:
“Developing countries account for more than 80 percent of the global population and more than 70 percent of global economic growth. People in developing countries are entitled to a better life, and developing countries are entitled to greater representation and a louder voice in international affairs.”
Probably the most sensitive relationship in contemporary global diplomacy is that between China and the United States. Responding to a question from the US television network NBC, Qin Gang said:
“The United States claims that it seeks to ‘out-compete’ China but does not seek conflict. Yet in reality, its so-called ‘competition’ means to contain and suppress China in all respects and get the two countries locked in a zero-sum game…Its so-called ‘establishing guardrails’ for China-US relations and ‘not seeking conflict’ actually means that China should not respond in words or action when slandered or attacked. That is just impossible! If the United States does not hit the brake but continues to speed down the wrong path, no amount of guardrails can prevent derailing, and there will surely be conflict and confrontation. Who will bear the catastrophic consequences? Such competition is a reckless gamble with the stakes being the fundamental interests of the two peoples and even the future of humanity. Naturally China is firmly opposed to all this.”
Making reference to many of the people he had met and interacted with during his recent posting as China’s Ambassador to the USA, Qin Gang pointed out:
“The American people, just like the Chinese people, are friendly, kind and sincere, and want a better life and a better world…Every time I think about them, I’m convinced that the China-US relationship should be determined by the common interests and shared responsibilities of the two countries and by the friendship between the Chinese and American peoples, rather than by US domestic politics or the hysterical neo-McCarthyism.”
Responding to a question from Phoenix Television on Taiwan, he stated: “The Chinese people have every right to ask: Why does the US talk at length about respecting sovereignty and territorial integrity on Ukraine, while disrespecting China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity on China’s Taiwan question? Why does the US ask China not to provide weapons to Russia, while it keeps selling arms to Taiwan in violation of the August 17 Communiqué?”
Qin Gang was asked by Associated Press of Pakistan about the progress of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), as this year is the 10th anniversary of its first being proposed by President Xi. Illustrating his point with concrete examples, the Foreign Minister explained that:
“Over the past decade, the BRI has galvanized nearly US$1 trillion of investment, established more than 3,000 cooperation projects, created 420,000 local jobs, and helped lift almost 40 million people out of poverty.”
He added that: “China should be the last one to be accused of the so-called debt trap. Data show that multilateral financial institutions and commercial creditors account for over 80 percent of the sovereign debt of developing countries. They are the biggest source of debt burden on developing countries. Particularly since last year, the unprecedented, rapid interest hikes by the United States have led to capital outflows in many countries and worsened the debt problems in the countries concerned. China has been making efforts to help the countries in distress, and is the biggest contributor to the G20’s Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI).”
The journalist from the Japanese public broadcaster NHK noted that this year marks the 45th anniversary of the Japan-China Peace and Friendship Treaty, but the two countries presently face a number of difficulties in their relationship, to which Qin Gang reminded his questioner:
“Some leaders in Japan recently have also been talking a lot about ‘international order’. We need to make clear what order they are talking about. Today’s international order is built on the victory of the World Anti-Fascist War, which cost the lives and blood of 35 million Chinese soldiers and civilians. The Chinese people will never accept any form of historical revisionism that challenges the post-war international order and international justice.”
We reprint below the full text of the press conference which was originally published on the website of the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
On 7 March 2023, a press conference was held on the margins of the First Session of the 14th National People’s Congress at the Media Center, during which Foreign Minister Qin Gang answered questions from Chinese and foreign media about China’s foreign policy and external relations.
Qin Gang: Friends from the media, good morning. I’m very pleased to meet you. As the world is undergoing major changes unseen in a century, China will continue to pursue the independent foreign policy of peace, and will continue to implement the mutually beneficial strategy of opening-up. China will always be a builder of world peace, a contributor to global development, and a defender of the international order. Now I’m ready to take your questions.
China Central Television: People at home and abroad have great expectations for China’s diplomacy in 2023. What will be the priorities and highlights in China’s diplomacy, particularly in head-of-state diplomacy? As the new foreign minister, how do you envision China’s diplomacy in the years to come?
Qin Gang: We’re in the first year of fully implementing the guiding principles set forth by the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. The Congress has outlined top-level plans for China’s diplomacy, identified our missions and tasks, and made strategic arrangements to that end. With the COVID situation turning for the better in China, we’re steadily resuming exchanges with the world. We’ve pressed the “acceleration button”, and sounded the clarion call for our diplomacy.
We will follow the guidance of head-of-state diplomacy. In particular, we will ensure the success of the two major diplomatic events that we will host — the first China-Central Asia Summit and the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, which will be the showcase of the distinctive character of China’s diplomacy.
We will take it as our mission to defend China’s core interests. We firmly oppose any form of hegemonism and power politics. We firmly oppose the Cold War mentality, camp-based confrontation, and acts to contain and hold back other countries’ development. We will resolutely safeguard China’s sovereignty, security and development interests.
We will build on our extensive partnerships. We will pursue coordination and sound interactions among major countries, seek friendship and cooperation with other countries, and promote a new type of international relations. China has had a growing network of friends, made more and more new friends, and strengthened ties with old ones.Continue reading Qin Gang meets the press: summary and full text